A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking
A fun and original take on the teenage wizard genre. With an immortal carnivorous sourdough starter named Bob (who may or may not count as a familiar).
In case that’s not enough to convince you:
Teenage assistant baker Mona’s only magic talent is with bread. She can make it staler or fresher, keep it from burning, make gingerbread men dance, and occasionally something more dramatic like Bob. (Bob was an accident, but he’s quite handy around the bakery.) She wasn’t prepared to be suspect number one in a rash of wizard murders, live on the run, or to protect the city from a threat as its only remaining mage.
Fun characters, fun concepts, and a quest that runs through the city’s worst slums to the palace. Mona has to navigate both from her comfortable shopkeeper’s life, learning what happens when the system she relied on to protect her is turned against her. And how the system can be manipulated against itself. She makes mistakes in the process – sometimes annoying mistakes, but the kind that makes sense for a teenager to make.
Also: Lots of creative uses of very specific magic abilities. One mage can only work with water…but they can use it to make two surfaces vibrate in sync to transmit sound. Another can only work with air…but is able to use smell and gases to strong effect. Another can only reanimate dead horses.
My 12-year-old son loved it, so of course I had to read it too. Definitely recommended!
Update: I liked Illuminations even better!
More of T. Kingfisher’s kids’ books at her official website.